Some men live in sandals all summer, airing out their toes in ultra-casual shoes; others hate what sandals do to a good-looking outfit.
Can a guy bare his toes while looking manly and stylish?
Absolutely not, says Bruce Liles, who owns Liles Clothing Studio at North Hills shopping center in Raleigh.
Sandals for men is not something I would recommend outside the beach or the gym or extremely casual situations, he said.
He recommends more coverage for the feet: a lightweight tennis shoe, an espadrille, a boat shoe or lightweight canvas shoes.
A driving moccasin, loafer or well-made, substantial leather sandal are other alternatives.
Flip-flop or not?
In the sandal discussion, flip-flops seem to cause strong reactions. You can find pro and con flip-flop sites and rants on the Web.
On the plus side, they are easy and inexpensive. Thats why people are wearing them, said Sherrie Mathieson, author of Steal This Style, which suggests outfits that look stylish no matter your age.
But here are some cons: Flip-flops tend to skimp on support, they give you weird tan lines, they are a tripping hazard, they tend to look sloppy because they hang off your feet and theres that awful flapping noise they make when you step.
In People magazine, actor Jared Padalecki, 31, star of the WB series Supernatural, suggested flip-flops are for kids. In the magazines Fathers Day gift guide, Padalecki recommended boat shoes for going out on the water.
Flip-flops used to do the job, but youre not in high school anymore, Padalecki said.
When you put on flip-flops, youve just toned down your whole look, says Barone (he goes by one name), director of operations at Revolution, a mens store on East Trade Street in Charlotte.
When you think about those, they are just normally made of plastic or rubber, which is thin, and then it has a thong between your toes. So really, how can that be good for you?
A quality leather sandal looks better and is easier to clean. Leather sandals also wont hold moisture like sandals with cork foot beds.
In an area where condensation will happen, it wont leave that indentation under the foot, he said. After youve worn some (cork sandals) for a while, they start to look a little nasty. Lets say you dont want them visible when someones visiting.
Spruce up the feet
Then theres the crusty feet problem. Sandals expose what youve been neglecting: dirty toes, claw-like nails, ashy ankles, hairy toes, nail fungus and rusty heels.
I have to say, feet arent the most attractive things, Liles said.
Beyond hygiene issues, weirdly shaped toes, bunions and calluses are some of the hazards to consider.
Sandals are lightweight and easy, but you need good feet to wear all of them, Mathieson said.
Salons are cashing in on that need, offering sport pedicures to get guys sandal-ready. Its like a womans pedicure, minus the polish: shaping toenails, smoothing out rough patches, massaging on some lotion.
Sweet T in North Raleigh, Orlandos Nail Spa in Durham, Nail Time in Cary and Euphoria and Pinkies in Charlotte are a few shops targeting pedicures to the guys.
A lot of the men feel very uncomfortable getting a manicure and pedicure, said Wendy Groon of Sweet T Salon. They feel like its a lady thing. So sport pedicure sounds not feminine.
The key is to paying attention to how you look, said Barone, who sells Hudson, AG and other high-end denim for men.
You dont want to have a sandal you cant go out in, he said. Thats tricky to say, but what it means: You want your sandal to be presentable when you wear your nice denim or shorts.
Sheon Wilson (sheon@SheonTheStylist.com or @SheonWilson on Twitter), a stylist in Durham, is a writer and creator of the Refresh Your Style makeover feature in The N&O.